Monday, August 10, 2020

Liberals Fighting over the Police

 On the New York city council, demands from progressives to defund the police have run into opposition from black politicians worried about crime. NY Times:

With New York City on the cusp of cutting $1 billion from the Police Department, a city councilwoman, Vanessa L. Gibson, told her colleagues that enough was enough.

She acknowledged that some Council members, spurred by the movement to defund the police, were seeking to slash even more from the department’s budget. But she pointed out that her constituents did not agree.

They “want to see cops in the community,” Ms. Gibson said.

“They don’t want to see excessive force. They don’t want to see cops putting their knees in our necks,” she said. “But they want to be safe as they go to the store.”

Ms. Gibson is not a conservative politician speaking on behalf of an affluent district. She is a liberal Black Democrat who represents the West Bronx, and her stance reflects a growing ideological rift over policing in one of the country’s liberal bastions. . . .

Laurie Cumbo, a Black councilwoman from Brooklyn who is majority leader, compared calls to defund the police to “colonization” pushed by white progressives. Robert Cornegy Jr., a Black councilman also from Brooklyn, called the movement “political gentrification.”

It strikes me that this is the latest blow-up in a long battle between black leaders and white progressives, as we saw for example with the Sanders campaign. Black leaders routinely criticize white progressives for living in a fantasy land made possible by their privileged position: rich white people can afford to indulge in ideological flights of fancy, but black people and especially poor black people cannot.

I am not posting this just to roast progressives who annoy me; you can easily see how this streak of black conservatism could impede progressive change in a nation where the left needs 90% of the black vote to make any headway. I am just doing my usual thing and pointing out that the world is complex. This is the political reality, and this fight once again points out the political naivete of American progressives, who enjoy striking bold progressive poses much more than they enjoy building coalitions of voters.

And, yes, "defund the police" does annoy me, because it pretends that we have only one problem and solving that one will magically make the others (shootouts between drug gangs, rape) go away.


David said...


Agreed. I'm troubled at how the combined action of the hard left and the right are tending to delegitimize electoral democracy, common sense, and the idea of a common good. I thing some analogies with Weimar are not inapposite (though I know you're probably annoyed by those, too).

David said...

I think some analogies . . . Oh, for an editing function!

G. Verloren said...

"And, yes, "defund the police" does annoy me, because it pretends that we have only one problem and solving that one will magically make the others (shootouts between drug gangs, rape) go away."

It doesn't pretend anything, it just doesn't wholly encapsulate in three words the entirety of what people mean when they say it.

Yes, we need police. Yes, we need to fund those police. But no, we shouldn't be funding their ability to employ excessive force.

The police need to stop spending their bloated budgets on guns, bullets, armored vehicles, body armor, tactical gear, and all the other accoutrements of warfare.

No reasonable person calling for reductions in police budgets expects them to cut the number of officers on the streets.

They expect them to cut the MRAPs (armored vehicles specifically designed to be mine resistant as a direct response to IED tactics used by guerilla insurgents), and other military grade vehicles that have become popular with local police forces all across the country, large and small alike.

They expect them to cut the legal funds used to defend police in court when they brutalize innocent people, or when a half dozen officers respond to a minor incident and fire 46 rounds of ammunition into a parked car, killing the unarmed occupants.

They expect them to cut the ability and willingness to send out SWAT teams and riot police and other wildly expensive response units at the drop of a hat, without the most basic regard for if such levels of force are actually needed.

And the police know this, and they hate the idea, and so they twist it around and make arguments in bad faith, about how if their budgets get slashed, they'll have to pull officers off the streets. BULLSHIT. They are perfectly capable of pulling the guns and bullets and teams of lawyers ready to defend the racist, murderous thugs within their ranks instead - they just don't WANT to. Keep all the police on the streets, but train them to handle problems without guns, except where special response units are absolutely necessary.

People say "Defund The Police" because "Stop spending my tax dollars being on oppressing and murdering innocent people and especially minorities" doesn't exactly make for a handy slogan to chant or put on a protest sign.